After five years of deliberations, the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) has finally ordered the dismissal from the police service for grave misconduct of 20 police officers linked to the Nov. 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre, including the highest ranking police officer in Maguindanao province at the time.
Dismissed from the Philippine National Police were P/Supt. Abusama Mundas Maguid, Chief Insp. Zukarno Adil Dicay, Insp. Rex Ariel Tabao Diongon, Insp. Michael Joy Ines Macaraeg, SPO2 Badawi Piang Bakal, SP01 Edurdo Hermo Ong, P03 Rashid Tolentino Anton, PO3 Felix Escala Enate, P03 Abidudin Sambuay Abdulgani, P03 Hamad Michael Nana, P02 Saudiar Ubo Ulah, P02 Saudi Pompong Pasutan, P01 Herich Manisi Amaba, PO1 Michael Juanitas Madsig,P01 Abdullah Samma Baguadatu, P01 Pia Sulay Kamidon, P01 Esperileto Giano Lejarso, P01 Esmael Manuel Guialal, P01 Narkou Duloan Mascu and P01 Rainer Tan Ebus.
At the time, P/Supt Maguid was the acting Maguindanao Provincial Police Director while Chief Insp. Dicay was the Deputy Provincial Director.
The police officers, most of whom were members of the 1508th Provincial Mobile Group under P/Supt. Maguid’s command, were found to have conspired with the Ampatuans in flagging the convoy of civilians, journalists and lawyers on their way to Shariff Aguak to file the certificate of candidacy of Vice Mayor Esmael Toto Mangudadatu. Chief Insp. Dicay himself was found to have given the order to block the convoy and led the checkpoint set up by the 1508th Provincial Mobile Group.
According to the Napolcom, the officers also stood in conspiratorial silence when a huge group of armed men led by Datu Unsay Ampatuan arrived and led away the convoy to a nearby hill on Sitio Masalay, where he and his men gunned down the victims mercilessly.
“All of the members of the 1508th Provincial Mobile Group chose to become silent spectators to a crime unfolding before their eyes. Their inaction manifests complicity and unity of action to those who committed the abduction, and later, the murders,” said the Napolcom in its decision.
Following the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on the question, the NAPOLCOM defines grave misconduct as “a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, more particularly unlawful behavior or gross negligence of a public officer.” Thus it considers any act or omission constituting a prime punishable under the Revised Penal Code as grave misconduct punishable by dismissal from the service.
The decision was signed by the Napolcom Chair and Interior and Local Government Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, and his five commissioners, namely Vice-Chair and Executive Officer Eduardo U. Escueta, Luisito Palmera, Constancia P. De Guzman, Alejandro S. Uro and Ricardo C. Marquez.
The Napolcom said Supt Maguid led “the efforts to hide and conceal the incident from the authorities and to dispose of evidence that might have been left by the group of Datu [Unsay] Andal Jr.”
Another police officer – Insp. Saudi Matabalo Mokamad – was dismissed from the service for serious neglect of duty while 20 others were exonerated of all charges for lack of evidence.
The NAPOLCOM however found that it did not have jurisdiction over nine police officers who had gone AWOL, although it may revive the charges against them “in the event that they will be restored to full duty status.”
“This is the very first time since the massacre six years ago that the victims have received some form of justice,” said lawyers Harry Roque, Romel Bagares and Gilbert Andres, who represented in the proceedings the families of 12 journalists who were among those killed in the worst spate of election violence in the country. “We have one quibble – the NAPOLCOM got the figures wrong – there were 58 victims, and not one victim less and we want to set this on historical record.”
The lawyers referred to the case of Midland Review photojournalist Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay, who remains missing but for a set of his dentures found at the massacre site by a fact-finding mission led by their organization, the Center for International Law (Centerlaw). Roque’s group would eventually get the Department of Justice to file a 58th murder complaint before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court trying the multiple murder charges against perpetrators, led by key members of the powerful Ampatuan clan of Maguindanao.
Roque who is also the first nominee of the party-list Kabayan said that on the whole they “were pleased with the results of the case but would wish to review the Decision, especially in regard to officers who were exonerated as we want to be sure there is a good basis for it.”
The NAPOLCOM’s 23-page decision in the proceedings (NAPOLCOM SD Case No. 2010-1964) only referred to 57 victims.
The administrative proceedings were filed on March 10, 2010 by the lawyer’s clients, namely Zenaida O. Duhay, Juliet Palor Evardo, Ma. Cipriano Gatchalian, Glenna G. Legarda, Arlyn D. Lupogan, Mary Jean M. Merisco, Catherine Nunez, Noemi M. Parcon, Myrna P. Reblando, Ramonita Salaysay, Editha Mirandilla Tiamzon and Erlyn Idalo Umpad.
The NAPOLCOM Decision was dated November 24, 2015 but it was released only yesterday. (For your reference please click here Napolcom Decision Dec2015 .)
All in all 62 , police officers were charged in the administrative proceedings conducted by the NAPOLCOM, which supervises the Philippine National Police. This may be the first time since the Marcos years that entire units of the police had been implicated in a gruesome crime.
The police officers also face multiple murder charges before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.
Eleven other officers – all members of the 1507th Provincial Mobile Group – were meted out suspensions for 59 days for less grave neglect of duty. They were SP01 Alik Mluk Solano, P02 Kendatu Salem Rakim, P01 Benedick Tentiao Alfonso, P01 Abdurahman Said Batarasa, P01 Marjul Tarulan Julkadi, P01 Datu Jerry Mluk Utto, P01 Mohamad Karim Balading, P01 Marsman Eging Nilong, P01 Abdulmanan Lumbabo Saavedra, P03 Felix Abado Daquilos, and P01 Jimmy Mlah Kadtong.
They were suspended for their failure to report gunfire they heard 30 minutes after the Mangudadatu convoy passed by their checkpoint along the National Highway, Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan.
Their superior officer, P/Insp. Mokamad, was found guilty of serious neglect of duty “for failing or refusing to take command in an emergency in order to carry out police duty, being the officer present with the highest rank, grade or position.”
The 1507th Provincial Mobile Group had set up a checkpoint about four kilometers away before that of the 1508th Provincial Mobile Group’s own checkpoint.
Those absolved were P/Supt. Bahnarin Unas Kamaong, P/Supt. Abdulwahid Unas Pedtucasan, P/Senior Insp. Abdulgapor Benasing Abad, SP02 George Sermonia Labayan, SP02 Samad Usman Maguindra, SP01 Oscar Dariua Donato, SP01 Elizer Sarad Rendaje, SP01 Alimola Guinaton Langalen, P03 Gibrael Rojas Alano, P03 Ricky Duya Balanueco, P02 Rexson Diocolano Guiama, P01 Amir Maliwanang Solaiman, P01 Badjun Ibad Panegas, P02 Sandy Diloyodin Sabang, P01 Johann Mansal Draper, P01 Tamano Sahibal Hadi , P01 Ebara Guiamalon Bebot, P01 Pendatun Ambang Dima, P01 Michael Macapeges Macarongon and P01 Abdulbayan Usman Mundas. The non-commissioned officers in this list were members of the 1507th Provincial Mobile Group who were assigned somewhere else at the time of the massacre.
P/Supt Kamong, P/Supt. Ubas and Senior Insp. Abad belonged to the Regional Mobile Group(RMG-ARMM),
Charges against P01 Hernanie Saulong Decipulo Jr were dropped because he died while the proceedings were being conducted.
The NAPOLCOM said it could not proceed with the charges against P02 Tanny Awal Dalgan, P01 Ysmael Nalaunan Baraguir, P01 Abbey Aklad Guiadem, P01 Warden Kusain Legawan, P01 Jonathan Solaiman Engid, P01 Datunot Mangelen Kadir, P01 Joharto Silongan Kamendan, P01 Arnulfo Ayunan Soriano, and P01 Anwear Damaudtang Masukat because they had gone on Absence without Official Leave and had already been dropped from the rolls before the charges were filed against them.